Our week around the Coromandel Peninsula turned into a few days because, once again, we ended up getting battered by the weather. We spent Wednesday night wondering if we’d pitched our tent in an automatic car wash, but when we ventured out of the tent on Thursday morning we discovered it was just another Kiwi weather warning. There was about 2 or 3 cm of water under our tent, but amazingly the inner was still dry. We decamped, sighed with relief that we had a car for once and drove 300 km to Waipu Cove, which is north of Auckland, as the forecast was better for that region. We managed some great beach walks, but still felt a bit lost without the bikes. We then had a couple of days back with Mike & Lynda near Hamilton, which was lovely. And something worth doing is visiting the Hamilton Gardens because they’re the best gardens we’ve visited in NZ. Just don’t tell any Kiwis you’re visiting Hamilton because they’ll tell you it’s a horrible city and not to bother, whereas coming from the UK, Hamilton seemed pretty decent.
On Wednesday 23rd March Mike drove us up to Auckland airport with our bikes packed up again in some cardboard boxes. The journey across to Melbourne was really easy. Emirates didn’t have any issues with the bikes, we squeezed everything into our 30kg check-in + 7kg of hand luggage, entering Australia was a breeze & by the time we got to the baggage reclaim area our bikes were there looking totally undamaged. The hardest part was then figuring out how to walk with the awkward shaped bike boxes the 400m from the terminal to the Holiday Inn that Philippa had booked using her air miles.
So our 2½ months in New Zealand have been and gone. Before we left the UK we were wondering if we’d want to move to New Zealand and now we’ve been that isn’t the case, but it is a great country to visit.
- The Kiwis are amazingly friendly people who are always willing to chat, offer advice and provide accommodation. Brits could learn a lot from their antipodean cousins.
- The best parts of NZ were Mckenzie Country; the west coast north of Greymouth; and The Coromandel Peninsula.
- New Zealand is very remote and after 2 months cycling through tiny places, which sometimes felt quite run down, it was a relief to hit some bigger towns once we got up to the top of North Island. Hopefully we won’t need to carry 4+ days worth of food in Australia.
- Pretty much all the campsites had a kitchen with ovens, hobs, microwaves etc.. which we hadn’t expected. We didn’t use all the gas in the 500 gram canister we bought in Christchurch!
- Nigel Rushton’s cycling guidebook about NZ is called “Pedallers’ Paradise“, but NZ is very much not a paradise for road cyclists because of the attitudes of the drivers. We will never again take road bikes to NZ. Instead we’d take mountain bike and explore some of the routes that are being developed
We’re now in Melbourne. Yesterday we cycled from the airport to stay with some of Philippa’s family friends. Getting from the airport was interesting. We’d planned to use the Moonee Ponds Creek Trail that starts at the airport, but the only way we could access the trail was across private land with locked gates, complete with signs saying something along the lines of “No trespassing, there’s CCTV watching you”. Some people we asked for advice told us they’d seem cyclists accessing the tail via the private land, but getting caught would result in a massive fine as it’s airport land. This wasn’t the start to Australia we’d expected! We eventually managed to pick a route that avoided trespassing and the highway. We’ll spend the Easter weekend in Melbourne and then on Tuesday we’ll set off for Sydney. We haven’t been cycling for over two weeks and we’re both looking forward to getting back on the road.